Candidate profile : Ayesha Irfan, VP external

Ayesha Irfan is running for VP external on a platform centred around advocating for international students, housing and transit.

The second-year political science student has served two years on AMS Council as an arts councilor, and has recent experience at all levels of government.

Irfan said she worked as a constituency assistant for the MP Edmonton Centre, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance and would bring this experience to external, if elected.

“I really understood what federal advocacy and federal policymaking looks like in Ottawa,” she said.

On housing, Irfan wants to focus on advocating for more investments into the BC Student Housing Loan Program. She said the success of the program and the provincial government previously investing $450 million into it in 2018 puts external in the position to “nudge the province a little bit and … get more money.”

Iran also hopes to advocate for student tenancy rights, as the Residential Tenancy Act does not currently include student housing.

“I think another big piece with housing is supporting the building of medium to high density housing near transit, and to make sure that students have an accessible commute.”

When it comes to transit, Irfan said she would want to continue to advocate for the Skytrain expansion to campus. Irfan also believes “the SkyTrain business proposal could have been wrapped up sooner.”

“I am going to make sure that business case proposal gets wrapped up. You see externals talking about it every single year. We were promised that we were going to have shovels in the ground by 2025 and by the time I'm done, we will,” said Irfan.

Food insecurity was another focus for Irfan. She said she wants to push the government to establish a one-time non-repayable food security grant program, but did not specify how she would lobby for this.

Irfan also stressed the importance of student engagement.

“In order to represent, I need to understand what students want. And that comes from reaching out and actually gaining student perspective,” she said.

She added that if elected as VP external she would, "have the privilege to spend time reaching out to students.”

With the impending provincial election, Irfan highlighted the opportunity to inform students about each candidate. She noted that if certain parties win then, Irfan could see a “possible rollback on some of the affordable policies that were put out this year.”

Irfan also sees potential in having student-centric issues like the Skytrain and food insecurity being on the ballot.

Irfan's desire is to “get students to vote … to leverage our power.” Irfan wants to hold the premier debate in the Nest. She said this could inform students on “who is for UBC students [and] who is not for UBC students.”

Irfan is running for VP external alongside Jake Sawatzky, also a first-time candidate.

This article is part of our 2024 AMS Elections coverage. Follow us at @UbysseyNews on X (formerly Twitter) and follow our election coverage starting February 27.